Tag Archives: priorities

Everybody Should Rethink Trump

My dad was good at asking me to “think again.” When he said it, he meant that I had not thought enough about the answer to a question.

The question everyone is asking right now is, “Who should be the next president of the USA?” Given the rhetoric of election coverage, I am led to say, “Think again!” because I do not believe that people have given sufficient thought to the consequences of their votes. Yesterday, Erick Erickson said the same thing.

I have learned to respect Erick Erickson over the past two years. He has consistently taken the high ground in the battle over numerous decisions within the Republican party. No matter where he stands, he always tells his readers why he is standing there. When Trump took the Republican nomination, Erickson declared his position and the reasons for his position, and I felt sure that even if I did not agree with his conclusion, I surely could respect the process of decision-making that put him there.

Yesterday Erick wrote another chapter in his ongoing process of determining how he will vote on Election Day. Once again, I was compelled to ask myself the questions Erick asked, and I was compelled to answer them. There is no longer any justification for postponing a decision, because the election is upon us. Early voting will start in about a month. It is time for voters to choose their poison. It is time for everyone to rethink what a vote means, whether cast for Hillary or Donald. (I really can’t compare Hillary to Trump, even though those monikers have become the norm. Maybe it is part of my problem with contemporary culture. For me, it is either Hillary and Donald, or Clinton and Trump.)

As Erickson laid out his concerns for the outcome of the presidential election, he said, “Clinton as President will mean the insane have taken over the asylum.” To be perfectly honest, I thought this sad conclusion had already occurred. When I contemplate same-sex marriage, gender confusion, transgender training for the military, and a federal insistence on the immigration of Islamic terrorists, I truly find myself thinking I have already gone through the looking-glass. Is it even possible that things will get worse?

Sadly, as Erick Erickson points out, the answer is, “We have only just begun.” He discusses the current state of social chaos in great depth. Then he looks closely at Trump, the choice who presumably stands for traditional values, and says,” Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.”

Whoa! That certainly is a problem. What exactly does Scripture say? “Purge the evil person from among you.” Apparently a person who said he never had anything to repent of would be an evil person, because Scripture says, “All have sinned.” It appears that Mr. Trump is guilty both of being a sinner and of lying about it. That is not good.

However, Erickson is not engaging in judgmental hypocrisy, the usual complaint leveled by secular thinkers against Christians. He is not interested in making Donald Trump look like a bad candidate. He says, “The whole purpose of shunning the unrepenant [sic] sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent.” Erickson asks Christians to consider what it means for them to gather around Donald Trump and cheer for his success if it prevents him from repenting and receiving Christ.

Erick Erickson is asking Christians to put the kingdom of God ahead of everything else. He is holding up the words of Jesus “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and who among the Christian community can ignore this warning.

Erickson’s concern for Donald Trump’s soul does not lead him to conclude he should vote for Hillary Clinton. He says, “I think Hillary Clinton will do lasting damage to the country. I cannot vote for her.” Whether I think as a secular voter or as a devoted Christian, I concur with Erickson’s view of Hillary. She is a threat to everything most Americans value.

Yet Erickson says of Donald Trump, “I think Donald Trump will do lasting damage to the witness of the Church in America and I therefore cannot vote for him.” This is not a trivial self-serving judgment. It is the conclusion of a man who has looked into the truth revealed by God himself and tried to apply that truth wisely.

Clearly, Erick is not comforted by this conclusion. Clearly, his fears for the outcome in our nation if Hillary Clinton becomes president drove him to reconsider his #NeverTrump position. Clearly, this thought process was both analytical and prayerful.

It is this process that inspires my emulation. I consider myself a thoughtful, prayerful Christian. I want to be faithful and obedient to God’s truth as revealed in his holy Word. It may not be easy being green, but being green is easier than being an obedient Christian faced with a thorny moral choice.

Before I read this post, I had gone down that thorny path with great trepidation. I had concluded that the real choice for a Christian is, what becomes of our country? I comforted myself by saying, If I cannot ask what is best for our country, I can ask what is worst and do the other thing. However, Erick Erickson has brought me face to face with an important truth: God’s kingdom must come first.

It really is odd how the Holy Spirit works. On Sunday, the children’s sermon at church centered on the question: What comes first? After a number of object lessons about the consequences of putting the wrong thing first, the presenter held up a wooden cross and asked, “What does God want us to put first?” The answer was, “The cross.”

On Wednesday, I read this post and then went to a Bible study. As it turned out, the key verse in that Bible study was. “Seek first the kingdom of God.” It seems to me that God is hammering home a truth: he and his kingdom transcend whatever might happen to the country if either Hillary or Donald becomes president. We all know, or think we know, that one of them is sure to be the president after all the dust settles. We all know, or think we know, that third party candidates never win. Therefore, leaving God out of the equation, we analyze the political situation and then choose the candidate that will, we hope, do the least harm.

Erickson is warning us that this is a stupid way to vote if we are really Christians. The Bible is very clear that a lot of people claim the name without submitting to the Lordship of Christ—that is to say that they join the club, but they do not aspire to its goals; they just like the snacks and jokes after worship on Sunday. Erickson is reminding us that if Christ is Lord, and if we have put God’s kingdom first in our lives, we will not vote—or choose a job or get married or buy shoes or choose summer camp for the kids—without putting God’s kingdom ahead of whatever personal comfort might arise from any of those choices. Erickson is reminding us that all our choices, no matter how small, must be subject to the King of Kings and his kingdom. We are certainly not to choose our president based on whether we would like to be persecuted for our belief in Christ; we are to make our choice by asking, what advances God’s kingdom.

Jesus said that there is more joy in heaven when one sinner repents than over a thousand who do not need to repent. That statement suggests that for the church to suffer persecution, because Hillary becomes president is not sufficient justification for a Christian to vote for Donald Trump if we understand that vote to propel him into continued unwillingness to repent, because he feels he has nothing for which to repent. Erickson seems to believe that Trump’s pride keeps him from confessing and repenting his sin. On that basis he says, “ I will not harm my witness nor risk Trump’s soul to serve my political desires.”

If I reach the conclusion that a vote for Donald Trump harms my witness or risks the candidate’s soul, I will agree with Erickson. I am thinking again, and I am prayerfully considering every word Erick Erickson wrote. I recommend you do the same.

http://theresurgent.com/coming-to-terms-with-trump/

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the autumn of 2016.

 

 

 

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Everybody Needs More Time

It is a twenty-first century mantra that nobody has enough time. Multi-tasking is an essential skill, even for young children, and in any group of people, if you listen, you will hear a persistent theme – I didn’t have enough time, I don’t have enough time, I ran out of time.

                I say these words, too. If only I had more time. Yet it is well known that nobody has any more time than anyone else, and none of us can manufacture time no matter how hard we try. What’s more, we don’t have any more or any less time than our parents or grandparents. Contemporary advances in technology have truly not given us any more time. Further, because we don’t have enough time, we are under terrible stress.

                Stress is a killer. Doctors say that many health issues either originate in stress or are exacerbated by stress. People can be stressed by fear, inappropriate expectations of themselves or others, and by a perceived need for more time. In an attempt to deal with the issue, personal organizers have become popular, but for some, the organizer is simply a place to record with terrifying orderliness the ultimate depressing truth that they don’t have enough time.

                Where does time come from? How can we get more of it? Why is time such an oppressive taskmaster?

                Time is a gift of the God who created the universe. The reality we all see, hear, taste, touch and smell is an environment bounded by time and space. Try as we will, we cannot be in two places at the same time, and despite our use of the word “multi-task” to suggest that we can do two things at the same time, we actually cannot. Multi-tasking is only very fast switching between two or more single tasks. We are at the lowest level completely single-threaded. And nobody has longer threads or more threads than anyone else. When we stress over what we experience as a deficit of time, we are actually saying that we think God short-changed us.

                Nobody will ever likely be more stressed than Jesus’ disciples the night he was arrested. It is hard to imagine what could produce more stress than the terror of imminent arrest, torture and gruesome execution. We all want to think that we might have been more faithful than the disciples who ran away when Jesus was arrested, but the evidence of people’s faithless behavior in various situations over the past two thousand years makes it quite clear that everyone is capable of falling away when things get scary.

                Jesus knew what was coming, and he knew that his “time” had run out for earthly ministry.  The night before he was arrested, he gave his disciples a gift they would need when they was Jesus dragged away. They would be saying, “If only we had more time with Jesus,” but there wouldn’t be any more. He gave them a gift that would transcend their stress as they realized that for them, time had come to a halt. When we feel stressed, even if our stress is not about imminent death, we, too, can claim this gift as Christ’s followers. The gift he gave to his disciples is a gift for each of us, too. That gift is peace.

                Peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you. I do not give as the world gives. Don not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.  John 14:27

                This gift is the gift we all need in order to see the gift of time for the richness that it is. The God who created the universe out of nothing by the word of his mouth, is not stingy with time. The God who fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish has not short-changed humanity by giving us only 24 hours each day. There is plenty of time. The God of abundant provision has provided more than enough time. We do not need to be stressed. Lately God has led me to think about time a great deal, and he has led me to understand that there is plenty of time to do what he has called each of us to do. Plenty of time.

                It has been a while since anyone said to me, “Take your time,” but I remember how it feels to be given that gift. God is saying to me now that he wants me to give that gift to other people.

There was a time in my life when I shopped for groceries by walking to the grocery store, buying my groceries, and taking a cab back home. The people at the service desk in the store called cabs for customers, and all I had to say was, “Would you please call Joe for me?”

                When Joe arrived, I had to unload my grocery cart into his trunk. I always wanted to get the job done quickly and not delay him. I usually managed to spill cans or boxes out of my grocery bags in my hurry, but every time, he said, “Take your time. There’s no rush.” When we arrived back at my home, again I tried to unload my things hastily. Joe always said, “Take your time. Don’t worry.” It was a true blessing to be given time to complete my task without feeling I had imposed on him.

                Lately, I realize that everybody needs that gift. As a Christian, I live in relationship with the Creator of time. Just as God provided manna for the Israelites, God gives me new time every day. By his grace, I am called to share that gift with others. It is easy to do. All I need to say is, “Take your time. There is no rush.” Just as Joe gave me the time and freedom to unload my groceries without rushing and breaking eggs and crushing my bread, I can give other people the time they need, the time they almost certainly believe they don’t have.

                I can’t make more time for myself or anyone, but as Christ’s representative in the midst of daily life, I can give time away like the disciples who began handing out bread and fish at Christ’s command. They all knew they started with not nearly enough food for five thousand people, but somehow there was enough. When I trust Christ and start giving away time, there will always be enough.

                I have plenty of time to listen to an elderly man who is wandering the docks with a crystal block in his hand. He comes up to me and says, “Do you know what this is?” and I say, “No. What is it? Tell me about it. Take your time.” We sit down, and he explains that he made this very beautiful but very functional piece of hardware to be “jewelry” for his wooden sailboat. I remember that Christ has given me perfect peace and that he is Lord of time. I have time to listen.

                I have plenty of time to call my two elderly aunts who live alone and endure the health problems that go with advanced years. I can listen to their stories and share my own, because there is enough time and to spare. When they stumble over the details, I can say, “Take your time. There is no rush.”

                At the checkout line, a frazzled woman with a child in her cart and two others calling, “Mommy, Mommy, can we get candy?” is rummaging in her purse for her credit card. She looks up at me and says, “I’m sorry. I’m so clumsy today.” I can say, “Take your time. There’s no rush.” I can pass to her the peace Christ has given to me, and I can give her the gift of enough time to take a breath and pay her bill and shush her children without fear that I am checking my calendar to see how late I will be to my next meeting.

                I give my order to the fast-food cashier, who discovers someone else took the last bag of fries just as she reached for them. She turns to me and says, “I’m sorry. It will be a couple of minutes.” I can say to her, “Take your time. There’s no rush. The peace of Christ be with you.” Then I can go wait my couple of minutes and hope her day is a bit less stressed because she just received the gift of more time.

                God is telling me that my word for today is “Take your time.” The God who dwells in eternity has infiltrated the world of time and space and given me so much time that I have time to give away to others. When I do, I will remember that Jesus said, “Peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you. … Do not let your heart be troubled.”

                I am the servant of eternal God who created time. Eternal God calls me to live in his frame of reference – eternity. When I think like God, I can give time away to others and know that I will not run out. I can say, from the center of God’s love, with perfect peace, ‘Take your time.”

A Verse for Meditation

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:4, 5

 

  • For Hebrews, the heart was the center of a human’s life. It was the locus of the recognition of right and wrong. What would it mean to love God fully in recognition of the difference between all that is right and all that is wrong? To put it another way, knowing that there is a raging battle between good and evil all around us, what does it mean to love God with all your heart?
  • Greeks thought of a human being as a soul within a body; Hebrews thought of the soul and body as one being. To Deuteronomy’s author, humans are integrated, body and soul. What does it mean to love God as a fully integrated human being, a being who does not “have” a body, but rather a being who “is” a body? This concept occurs in Jesus’ teaching when he said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 NRSV) The word teleios which is translated as “perfect” could more clearly be translated “fully integrated,” and the sense of the word is such that an alternate translation might well be, “Be a person of integrity, as your heavenly Father is a person of integrity.” What does it mean to love God with your complete integrity?
  • The Hebrew word translated might is about the uttermost force and strength of life. It is about being utterly committed. It is about using every ounce of personal power. It is about being all in, giving 100%. What does it mean, therefore, to love God with all your might?
  • To live in today’s world is to be subjected to many calls for your attention at any given moment. Places to go, things to buy, desires, threats, simple everyday tasks. Multi-tasking to achieve multiple objectives in parallel is a highly-valued skill. Can it even be possible that there is one God who has a unique claim on all your priorities at all times? How can you possibly put God first, above all other demands on your attention and your loyalties?